The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) has said the 2017/2018 financial year should be the year for radical reforms in Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) including a move from targeting ultra-poor individuals to productive farmers’ clubs.
Former president late Bingu wa Mutharika introduced Fisp in 2005 with an aim of assisting the poor of the poorest such as widows, child-headed families, the aged and people with disabilities but the programme has been receiving growing criticism for targeting ‘unproductive group’.
In a response to a questionnaire, Cisanet National Director Pamela Kuwali also said Fisp should be more than a maize programme.
“Fisp reforms need to be redesigned and must target farmers’ clubs. There should be a piloted shift of focus of Fisp from targeting the elderly, the ultra-poor and vulnerable groups to targeting productive farmers. Government should also consider supporting diversifying Fisp support – not maize alone. The civil society also recommends that the subsidies be extended to pesticides for other cash crops like tea,” Kuwali said.
In his State of the Nation Address on Friday, President Peter Mutharika said government will continue with implementation of Fisp reforms to ensure that the programme is delivered efficiently by specifically strengthening private sector participation in supply, delivery and retailing of inputs across the country.
Last year, 90,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, 4,500 metric tonnes of improved maize seed and 1,800 metric tonnes of legume seed were made available across the country targeting 900,000 beneficiaries.
“Government initiated key reforms such as increasing private sector participation and fixing the value of fertiliser coupon at K15,000 to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the programme,” Mutharika said.
Kuwali also said the civil society is asking government to commit sufficient resources for irrigation-related activities both in the short term and the long term, including the construction of water dams.